From Tibet to the 'Nine Dragons', Vietnam's Mekong Delta is losing sand
Updated : January 14, 2019 10:10 AM IST
Upstream damming and extensive mining of the Mekong's riverbed for sand is causing the land between the sprawling network of rivers and channels near the mouth of one of the world's great rivers to sink at a pace of around 2 cm (0.75 inches) a year, experts and officials said.
The 4,350 km (2,700-mile) river, known as the Lancang in its upper reaches, flows from China's Tibetan Plateau along the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, through Cambodia and finally Vietnam, where it forms the delta known in Vietnam as the "Nine Dragons".
Across the region, local authorities are struggling with a rapid pace of erosion that is destroying homes and threatening livelihoods in the Southeast Asian country's largest rice-growing region.
A key cause is the years of upstream damming in Cambodia, Laos and China that has removed crucial sediment, local officials and experts said.
That sediment, vital for checking the mighty Mekong's currents, has also been lost due to an insatiable demand for sand - a key ingredient in concrete and other construction materials in fast-developing Vietnam - that has created a market both at home and abroad for unregulated mining.